Coming to Our Senses: Body and Spirit in the Hidden History of the West

Morris Berman, Author Simon & Schuster $22.45 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-66618-7
The author's call for a life of the body--as opposed to an emphasis on success, material possessions and divisive ``isms''--rigorously extends the arguments advanced in his popular The Reenchantment of the World . Stressing that the human infant's emerging self-awareness is bodily as well as conceptual, Berman views conventional birthing methods as traumatic; he faults modern infant care for a dearth of physical contact with the young. His analysis of repressed ``somatic awareness'' takes unusual turns: a history of mirrors, decoding of upper-class vs. lower-class body language, a review of our changing relations with animals--from reverential cave art to the treatment of other species as mere objects. Next, he identifies a countercultural tradition supposedly rooted in bodily experience and rejecting the cerebral, mechanical way of life of the dominant culture. Examples include Gnostic seers' fusion with godhead, Jewish mysticism, 11th century French Cathar heretics with their trance and ecstasy techniques, the soul travel of Renaissance occultists. This maverick synthesis challenges commonly held assumptions. Photos. First serial to Reality Club magazine; paperback rights to Bantam. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
Hardcover - 426 pages - 978-1-62654-292-1
Paperback - 426 pages - 978-1-62654-291-4
Paperback - 425 pages - 978-0-553-34863-7
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